An author friend sent me an email a while back dismayed that her niece’s husband had been charged and, after a “kangaroo court” style of trial, convicted of murder after serving in Afghanistan. She and her family believe in his innocence. This injustice is against an American soldier, not a Canadian, and I don’t know how influential protests from sympathetic Canadians would be. For sure it magnifies deep rot in the American military. Not only Canadian Omar Kahdr got a raw deal by the U.S. Military after he was captured on July 27, 2002 by American forces at the age of 15, so now their own soldiers are being showcased to deflect attention away from what is going wrong in the U.S. battle against terrorists, not on what is going right. Through friends, the niece of my author friend is raising a protest and petition for clemency. What I quote below is partly from her and from other media supporters. Bear in mind please, that the soldier’s lawyer is angry about what has happened to the soldier he is defending, and what he says about the Afghans is his opinion. There are returning Canadian veterans who may not share the same viewpoint. Perhaps this is an opportunity for them to speak up based on their observations and experience. BONNIE
Photo: U.S. Army National Guardsman, Sgt. Derrick Miller, 27, of Hagerstown, MD, was convicted this past week of the premeditated murder of an Afghan man in 2010. The husband and father of two was assigned to a Connecticut National Guard unit and attached to the 101st Airborne Division at the time of the shooting in Eastern Afghanistan. After joining the National Guard in 2006, Miller had three combat deployments and had recently been promoted.
In the online magazine, BIG PEACE, writer Diana West interviews Sgt. Miller’s attorney, Charles Gittens.
GITTENS: In a contested jury trial at Fort Campbell KY, SGT. Miller was sentenced to life in prison with the opportunity for parole (in 10 years) for killing an Afghan civilian when the civilian grabbed his weapon during harsh questioning. The civilian was identified as a possible insurgent who had been walking through SGT. Miller’s platoon defensive perimeter observing their defensive positions. After the shooting, the unit was attacked in a complex attack and the ANA soldiers assigned to the platoon pulled back prior to the start of the shooting and hid behind a building.
The witnesses against SGT. Miller were a soldier who originally supported SGT. Miller’s version of events, but he changed his story when he was threatened with being named an accessory and being placed on legal hold so he could not de-mobilize. The other witness was an Afghan translator who was promised U.S. Citizenship in exchange for his testimony. He was brought to the U.S. in January and has been living on Fort Campbell in a base hotel at $630 per month with a dedicated van to take him wherever he wants to go, and has been fed at taxpayer expense. Basically, the two witnesses had every incentive to testify the way the Government wanted them to — consistent with guilt rather than SGT Miller’s claim of innocence. SGT Miller cooperated in every way from the date of the shooting, but his command lacked the moral courage to stand behind him.
WEST: Who, in your opinion, is this show trial designed to play to?
GITTENS: The Afghans that run that area of the country. This guy [the victim] was an insurgent but no one in the fricking military is willing to say so to the two-faced Afghans. They had a firefight that night that was designed to kill Americans — all the while the ANA soldiers were nowhere to be seen. They disappeared just before the shooting started and the fire on American positions was such that the guys targeted were sure that they [the insurgents] had recon of American positions due to this guy and his two military-aged males accompanying him reporting on the positions.
That we waste ONE American life in defense of that country is anathema. The country is completely corrupt; they are cowards unwilling to defend their own country, and we have gotten so deep in defending an indefensibly corrupt regime we cannot extricate our military in a way that allows us to maintain our honor.
If President Karzai was on fire I wouldn’t urinate on him to put out the fire. Feel free to quote me.
From my author friend, Rita Gerlach, who writes delightful historical romances set in the period of American Independence. She found this period of history fascinating and has wanted to help young Americans better understand their inheritance and roots. This whole catastrophe has soured her on her country and its true purpose.
GERLACH: “So now Sgt. Miller is dishonorably discharged, stripped of his rank, and serving life in prison with the possibility of parole. He is a loving husband and the father of two little girls. He is his mother Renee’s only child. SGT Miller had an unblemished military record and was in fact a decorated soldier. Members of his unit testified in his favor.
“Katherine is gathering letters requesting clemency for Derrick and is receiving a flood of support from soldiers who served with him. If you consider writing a letter of clemency, mail it to:Mrs. Katherine Miller P.O. Box 475 Burkittsville, MD 21718
“An appeal is forthcoming as well. Please lift up in prayer his wife Katherine Miller, Sgt. Derrick Miller, their children, his parents, and family.”
Eating our Own – by Diana West, including an interview with Derrick’s lawyer Charles Gittins. http://bigpeace.com/dwest/2011/08/02/another-soldier-convicted-for-actions-in-afghanistan-eating-our-own-some-more/
Free Derrick Miller: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Free-Derrick-Miller/228164270554401
Clemency Letter Guidelines: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Free-Derrick-Miller/228164270554401#!/notes/free-derrick-miller/how-to-write-